Tips for Taking a Break From Paying off Debt

I have a few dear friends who’ve had a pain-in-the-tail kind of a year, to put it lightly. The nature of the pains-in-the-tail vary, but suffice to say they’ve all been astronomically busy doing damage control. Because of this, other goals they’d been working on have had to go by the wayside.

When one is working to pay off debt, life often comes along and kicks their debt payoff goals in the pants for several weeks or months. If this happens to you and you are feeling like you need to take a break from debt payoff and focus on other things, don’t worry. There are things you can do to still manage your debt while avoiding the super-stringent debt payoff plan you may have originally put in place.

If you’re in the midst of a debt payoff plan that’s been derailed by a longer-term crisis, never fear. Here’s how to make sure your debt payoff plans don’t get too far off track, even with the lack of attention you’re able to give them.

  1. Do What You Can. If you’re able to, at least have a budget you are committed to and continue tracking your spending. It takes but a minute to put expenses on a spreadsheet each day, and a budget can be written up in a half-hour time period once a month. If you can keep these two tenets of debt payoff in place, you’ll be able to help avoid getting entirely off track.
  2. Avoid Using Spending to Cope. If you’re an emotional spender, it can be easy to use spending to try and provide temporary relief for the stressful situation you’re up against. If this is you, try making a list of other, non-spending things you can do to cope with the stress. Some ideas:
  • Go for a walk with a friend or work out
  • Take a warm bath with Epsom Salts
  • Watch a light-hearted comedy movie
  • Talk it out with a trusted confidante
  • Clean or organize something
  • Play – with your kids, your dog, your spouse or whatever

By putting some stop-gaps in place that will help you avoid emotional spending, you can help ensure your debt doesn’t grow larger during this       stressful time.

3.   Don’t Spend Too Much Time Worrying About Money. Instead, focus your energy on resolving the crisis at hand, or at least doing what       you can do to make things better.

     4. Don’t Panic if You’ve Already Backslid on Your Debt Payoff Plan. Is it too late? Has your stressful crisis situation already caused you to drop back  down into serious debt? If so, don’t panic. When you’ve fallen off the wagon during debt payoff, you’ve got two choices: give up and stay in debt  forever, or get back on the wagon and start riding again. As the old saying goes:

There is no failure except in no longer trying. -Elbert Hubbard, American writer

Friends, we all go through periods in life where we simply cannot focus on our goals. If you’re going through one of those times, hang in there, stand strong, and hold tight. You’re stronger than you know.

*Photo courtesy of Simon Cunningham

12 comments on “Tips for Taking a Break From Paying off Debt

  1. So many of us in debt have been convinced – and rightly so – of the importance of self-discipline. That makes it really hard to allow ourselves to back off from the thing that self-discipline is effectively achieving for us. There’s that “I’m falling off the wagon!” discouragement and self-doubt. But that resistance is more compulsion than genuine self-discipline.
    This is a great message, Laurie! There’s a huge relief in feeling permission to do what needs to be done. And if that means backing off for a time, so be it!

  2. I am a definitely an emotional spender. I used to be worse, especially in my early 20’s, but I’ve kept it (mostly) under control. But some days are really difficult and I can’t say that it doesn’t always get the best of me 🙁

    1. I hear you, Mackenzie. I used to be an emotional spender BIG time, though it’s mostly gone, now. It’s tough to deal with!

  3. I tend to be guilty of spending too much time worrying about money, even without consumer debt. This can lead to sleepless nights which leads to sleepy days which leads to not being well prepared to make smart spending decisions. If you’re tossing and turning with money worries, it’s a good idea to clear your head. Sometimes writing down your issues, priorities and goals, helps you to get it out of your head and onto paper so you can get relax and get to sleep.

    1. Money worries are the WORST! They can be SO consuming. I love your ideas about writing things down and getting them out of your head – great idea, Gary. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. We’re not having to stop paying off debt. But we’re definitely having to moderate our steps in the face of various obstacles/expenses/emotional nut shots.

    For example, I want to build up our emergency fund, but we’re busy socking away money for Tim’s impending ridiculous dental implant bill. So I allot $50 a month. It’s so much less than we “should” be putting away. But it’s what we can spare right now.

    Similarly, we can’t put what we want toward retirement or pay down our mortgage quickly. So we figure out what we CAN do and go from there.

    And only occasionally break down crying in the face of yet another new expense.

    1. It’s the “forward steps” that count, Abigail. You guys are continuing to press on, and that’s what counts. Keep up the great work!

  5. This is what I love about Fruclassity – the understanding that everyone’s path is different, and there’s no one “right” way. Life happens, and what counts is how we manage it when it does.

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